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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grizzly Bear @ The Pabst Theater

April 2, 2013

grizzly bear
CJ Foeckler
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There aren’t more polite, sincere musicians touring today than the gentlemen that make up Grizzly Bear. Their charm is suffocating. Foremost among them is frontman Ed Droste, who on Tuesday night thanked the Pabst Theater’s crowd or its staff at least a dozen times. He even went so far as to herald how much the venue meant to the group. This the Brooklyn band’s third gig at the lavish venue, and he noted that the audience has grown with each appearance. “Finally, we’ve graduated to some people in the third level,” Droste smirked. The leader rarely lost his cool throughout the night. Only once did he ever seem flustered. When someone yelled “Freebird!” during a break, he replied, noticeably irritated, “Man, that’s horrible. Come on.”

The expanded crowd came to see a night of effortless, textured chamber pop and Grizzly Bear did not disappoint. Culling from the recent, inward-looking record, Shields, the five-piece melded lush vocal harmonies with ethereal guitar work, often going through many movements in a song that usually culminated into one big moment. Droste rotated singing duties with guitarist Daniel Rossen, who displayed his restrained sheen on “A Simple Answer” and “Sleeping Ute.” The Droste-sung “Yet Again” highlighted the new material due mainly to a psychedelic guitar solo that closed the song, which came as a bit of a revelation from these mild-mannered choir boys. That’s the thing about Grizzly Bear, though. They can do so many different things, and they can do all those things well.

Everything seemed to fit perfectly in place last night—the impeccable songwriting, the elegant orchestration, the confessional musicianship. It wasn’t a surprise that there wasn’t a drink to be found onstage. It’s as if a sniff of alcohol might entirely throw the band off its calculated, ambitious mission.

Closing the performance was the slow, pleasant “All We Ask” from the band’s breakthrough record Veckatimest. During Grizzly Bear’s last stop almost four years ago, the band filmed an acoustic rendition of the song in the top section of the theater. To mark the occasion, Grizzly Bear set out to recapture the experience. Rossen played an acoustic guitar amplified only through his microphone, Christopher Bear lighted tapped his drums and Droste sang serenely a couple paces back from his microphone with multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor. It was an awe-inspiring moment. With that, Grizzly Bear vacated the stage—of course, not before Droste could get one last piece of praise out. “Thank you to the third balcony,” he yelled. You can’t blame him; it was the first time he’s had the opportunity.